Tag Archives: apache

Improving Your WebSite Performance

Why is my site slow?
Why is my Bounce Rate so high?
How to improve my site’s performance?

These are some of the questions bothering web masters and site owners all the time,
here are some tools and readme’s that will:

  • test your site
  • find bottle necks
  • measure performance from the outside
  • get tips for fixing the problem areas in your site
  • and knows list of issues every site is suffering from

so lets start with online freeware tools and external web site test tools.

Check if your Google Analytics is working well in your site

Who is watching the watchman?

first thing to check – are you getting the accurate statistics from your site?
is your Analytics account configured well?
are you even really using one?

SiteScan™ is a diagnostic tool from EpikOne that verifies if your Google Analytics (GA)
Tracking Code is installed properly on your website.

sitescan google analytics

This scan will go over each page and verify that the Google Analytics code is embedded correctly to each of your page, this can help you diagnose if your bounce rate is high because the Analytics cant see their next click,
or maybe you should really work on your site design.

How does my code looks like from the browser?


From the firebug download page:

Firebug integrates with Firefox to put a wealth of development tools at your fingertips while you browse. You can edit, debug, and monitor CSS, HTML, and JavaScript live in any web page..

This is the basic tool to verify your code as it seen from the browser side,
you can click a specific element on your page, and get a list on the right pane window of firebug,
of all the css code that is effecting this element, even if the code span multiple css files.

Why is my page so slow?

the yslow tool from yahoo will go through the elements of your page,
and by using a preset list of rules, it will tell you which parts of the website you should fix,
and what to fix.

The yslow firefox plugin needs the firefox firebug installed first.

If you want to learn more deeply on the reasons behind each of the testing rules yahoo though about you can read the very informative document from yahoo about “Best Practices for Speeding Up Your Web Site

Feed Validator

Get your rss feed validated

AOL webpagetest

from the AOL web page test:

Pagetest allows you to provide the URL of a webpage to be tested. The test will be conducted from the location specified and you will be provided a waterfall of your page load performance as well as a comparison against an optimization checklist.

aol pagetest waterfall

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Apache Active Directory Authentication

Apache server is a strong web server that can serve great open source application like Mediawiki which is a great solution for information sharing,
but what if you want to use Mediawiki to share information only for the local office active directory domain members?
Or even only to members of a specific group in the active directory?

In Apache you have a specific module called mod_ldap which allows you to use the Active Directory as an authentication server for your users,
so you can create a secure wiki branch for each department users.

To setup the apache server to use Active Directory as access manager you will need to make sure the mod_ldap was compiled with the apache server and that these lines are in the httpd.conf file:

LoadModule authnz_ldap_module modules/mod_authnz_ldap.so
LoadModule ldap_module modules/mod_ldap.so

If you have a Windows server installed with the xampp install of apache and mysql, you will have the module pre-compiled into the apache server,
however testing that it’s loaded can be done with:

C:\xampp\apache\bin\httpd.exe -t -D DUMP_MODULES
the output should have these lines:
authnz_ldap_module (shared)
ldap_module (shared)

Once you have the mod_ldap modules loaded you can add to the apache configuration file the user authentication support:

Any Authenticated user from the Domain:

<Location /Finance_Wiki>
Require valid-user
AuthType Basic
AuthName “Finance Wiki Access”
AuthBasicProvider “ldap”
AuthLDAPBindDN “CN=proxy_user,OU=sub_group,OU=main_group,DC=some,DC=domain,DC=com”
AuthLDAPBindPassword “proxy_user_pass”
AuthLDAPURL “ldap://pdc.some.domain.com:389/OU=main_group,DC=some,DC=domain,DC=com?sAMAccountName?sub?(objectClass=*)”

The AuthLDAPBindDN and AuthLDAPBindPassword settings are for setting a user that will allow the apache server to browse the Active Directory structure,
the user created for this should have the minimum rights possible in the domain.

This specific apache configuration will allow any user from the domain to share the /Finance_Wiki folder, but if you want to allow access for a specific group you need to add this configuration line:

require ldap-group CN=groupname,OU=group.container,OU=main_group,DC=some,DC=domain,DC=com

This is the part that will require the active directory authentication for a specific group.

This way you can prepare a wiki branch for each group in your company to securely share internal files.

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Test http server from windows command line

curl for windows

So you went ahead and did a little change to your web site, or web server redirect,
and you want to test it out without a sniffer,
the fastest way to test the http server headers and output is from the command line so you can see exactly what the servers is sending.

Now from Linux you have built in tools like GET, and wget ad curl,
wget and curl you can also install on windows to work from the command line.

Curl For Windows

Go ahead and download curl from their main website, you should get the Win32 – General version,
or the Win64 binary.
Better take the SSL enabled version if you will ever need to test SSL.
Take the curl.exe file from the zip file and place it somewhere in your windows PATH.

To find which directories are already in the windows path open the command line and write:

C:\>echo %PATH%

You will get the listing for such directories, just place the curl.exe in one of them.

Now for the tests:
To get only the headers and not the file contents itself use “curl -I http://address”

C:\>curl -I http://some.site.com/blocked_folder/blocked.php
HTTP/1.0 403 Forbidden
Server: Apache
Accept-Ranges: bytes
Content-Type: text/html
Expires: Tue, 27 Oct 2009 19:32:38 GMT
Cache-Control: max-age=0, no-cache, no-store
Pragma: no-cache
Date: Tue, 27 Oct 2009 19:32:38 GMT
Connection: keep-alive

From this test you can see the file is forbidden, what are the caching setings for the server, and other headers information.

If you would like to see the full page contents just remove the “-I”.

another sample:

C:\>curl -I http://www.cisco.com/
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Date: Tue, 27 Oct 2009 19:36:28 GMT
Server: Apache/2.2
Set-Cookie: CP_GUTC=; path=/; expires=Sat, 21-Oct-34 19:36:28 GMT; domain=.cisco.com
Last-Modified: Tue, 27 Oct 2009 16:34:14 GMT
ETag: “5985”
Accept-Ranges: bytes
Content-Length: 22917
CDCHOST: cdcxweb-prod1-02
Content-Type: text/html

this time we got a 200 reply which means the apache sent us the page,
we can see the page’s size from the “Content-Length” header,
and the other info the apache wants to send us.

Testing for Virtual hosts

Virtual hosting on apache can mean having more domain names on the same IP,
and you can test each of these domains by adding a “Host” header to the curl test line:

curl -H “Host: sub1.host.com” http://www.hosting.com/
curl -H “Host: sub2.host.com” http://www.hosting.com/

These 2 lines will bring back the html code for each of the different virtual hosts on the same server.

Here are some more ideas of using curl -for example:
Sending POST data through curl

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How to start learning Linux

If you want to start learning Linux the best advice I can give you is:

Start out as a user first

The simplest way is to download some live CD from the Internet,
for a sample this one:
Centos live CD
Fedora liveCD
Either of which will boot into a full working Linux distro,
without installing anything on your windows box.
when your done playing with the Linux server, just remove the CD from your computer, and reboot – your windows will come right back.
both the distros I’ve linked to here are very similar – they use the same redhat code, but the fedora is more cutting edge development version of everything and the centos is a stable server environment.
The fedora LiveCD will also allow you to install it to the machine your using from the LiveCD itself – after the boot you will see an install Icon on the Linux desktop.
Start playing with the servers, while reading some linux tutorials,
start as a Linux user and then work your way up to power user and to admin in the end.

Hands On Training Tasks for Linux Sysadmin

After your feel you know your way around as a user:

  • reading and writing files
  • working your way around the file system
  • installing some rpm packages

You can start working your way through some serious hands on training – try to do either of these:

  • Setup A stand alone DNS server
  • Setup Apache server with php and SSL
  • Install MySQL server from sources
  • Setup sendmail
  • Install WordPress or Joomla on your Apache/MySQL and happily see it all working together

Each of these tasks will take a long time to figure out for the first time, and on the way learning to do the task, you will learn a lot more things that you wouldn’t have just by playing with the server.

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installing wordpress on windows

installing wordpress on windows image

In my last post i talked about installing apache and mysql on windows for development needs, and now we can add to that install a wordpress blog.

when i do changes to the php code on wordpress i first test it on the local version of the them to make sure its good before going with it public.

1) get the wordpress files

first thing – download the wordpress install file from the website,
the default html folder for xampp is C:\xampp\htdocs so lets create a folder for our blog there: C:\xampp\htdocs\testblog and unzip the wordpress files into that location.

2) setup the MySQL user and database

go to http://localhost/phpmyadmin/index.php and choose the Privileges tab,
find the “Add a new User” link.
fill in a user name – anything you want, and a password.
in the “Database for user” section make sure to check: “Global privileges” press the “Check All” link to give the user all the privileges (this is something you should do only on a development server!!! )

press the Go button.

at this point its best to reload the privileges tab and use the “reload the privileges” link to make sure the user is loaded.

3) edit the wp-config.php file

go to C:\xampp\htdocs\testblog where all the blog files are located and rename wp-config-sample.php to wp-config.php, edit the file and setup:
edit the DB-NAME line and replace “putyourdbnamehere” with the username we created a minute ago,
replace “usernamehere” with the the same user name we just used,
“yourpasswordhere” should be replaced with the user’s password,
and also you have the “Authentication Unique Keys” part where you need to create keys for your blog,
you can use this wordpress.org page which will create the keys for you. copy and paste the keys to the config file.

4) run the wordpress config php

if you installed the wordpress files into “testblog” folder, the install file will be at: http://localhost/testblog/wp-admin/install.php

choose a blog title and an email, and you have your own development blog running.
don’t forget to change the admin password first thing…

you can access your new blog at: http://localhost/testblog/

from here now you can do all the changes and testing you want, including themes and plugins, before you upload them to your live blog.

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Apache and MySQL on windows

xampp apache and mysql on windows

Although I’m a great Linux fan, i still have Windows on my personal computer, since the computer is not used by me alone, and although i have various Linux OS installed on this same computer, most of the time its on the windows mode. so what do i do when i need to test something on wordpress or mediawiki?

For that reason i needed a development environment on my home computer that will run Apache, MySQL, php and Perl. There are some ways to go about that – i could have installed Cygwin, which is a Linux-like environment for windows.

Another way to go about it is to install the windows version Apache and mysql and php and perl.

These two options are fine solutions but they will need some more work on them , other then the point and click option which is xampp.
xampp for windows version 1.7.1 on default will include all of these:

  • Apache HTTPD 2.2.11 + Openssl 0.9.8i
  • MySQL 5.1.33
  • PHP 5.2.9
  • phpMyAdmin

and if you want to can add Perl 5.10.0-2.2.11 from their Add-Ons page.

The install process is a next,next,next version of a regular windows install, and in the the end you have everything installed into the default location at C:\xampp.

xampp control panel

This is the windows control panel that stops and starts the Apache and MySQL for you if you don want to install them as services, personally i prefer to start them when I’m developing since they are resource heavy applications.

Some default file locations:
the html and php files are installed to C:\xampp\htdocs
Perl scripts should be placed here: C:\xampp\cgi-bin
the php.ini (php config file) can be found at: C:\xampp\apache\bin\php.ini
httpd.conf (apache config file) is located in: C:\xampp\apache\conf

Note that for Unix Perl scripts you need to replace the first line with the location of the Perl binary on your windows, so it should look like:

Another not is that the xampp on default is set to work with php 5 , but you can from the xampp configure page which is at http://localhost/xampp/ , use the “PHP switcher” and change the install to work with php 4 instead.

And that’s it – your local development website is ready and is available at: http://localhost/ to play with.

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Check a web page exists

Here is a short method to check if a web page exists from a perl script,
this script will test the existense of a page and do something as a result:

use LWP::Simple;
print “Content-Type: text/html\n\n”;

$url = “http://site.com/“;

if (head($url)) {
# ok document exists
print “OK: found $url”;
} else {
# something is not well
print “PROBLEM: $url is missing”;

This script is using the libwww-perl package.

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Check apache from command line

When working with web servers we sometimes need to test them and make sure we are getting what we need to get,
and to see what the web server is sending back including headers.
The simplest and fastest way to do that is through command line.

telnet to the web server port – (usually port 80) like this:
telnet yonitg.com 80

and then just paste:
GET / HTTP/1.1
Host: yonitg.com

and press “Enter” twice.

Your output should be something like this:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Date: Wed, 11 Mar 2009 00:09:53 GMT
Server: Apache/2.2.11 (Win32) DAV/2 mod_ssl/2.2.11 OpenSSL/0.9.8i mod_autoindex_color PHP/5.2.8 mod_perl/2.0.4 Perl/v5.10.0
Last-Modified: Fri, 21 Dec 2007 02:01:16 GMT
ETag: “200000001d649-ca-441c240f37300″
Accept-Ranges: bytes
Content-Length: 202
Content-Type: text/html

these are standard reply headers from the Apache server on my host,
after the headers you will see the rest of the reply from the web server, in my case:

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN”
<h1>It works!</h1>

This way you don’t need a sniffer installed just to check if the web server is sane.
also from the linux command line you can also test this with:
GET http://yonitg.com
POST http://yonitg.com

the GET and POST command line apps are good tools to test http response,
they are part of the libwww-perl package.

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